Master's degree programs in contract management train students in advanced concepts of contract acquisition, procurement, and negotiation. In addition, these programs provide training in state and federal regulations regarding contracting processes, since they are often intended for students who are specifically interested in federal government contracting, although other types of contract management may be covered as well. Upon graduation, students are prepared to pursue professional certifications in the field.
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, and prior coursework in statistics, finance and mathematics is considered helpful. Most programs prefer, but rarely require, previous work experience.
Master's Degree in Contract Management
Over the course of these programs, students take theoretical courses, participate in hands-on training exercises such as case-study analyses, and conduct independent research. In master's degree programs in contract management, students may take some of the following courses:
- Principles of acquisition
- Government contracting
- Contract law
- Contract negotiation
- Contract pricing
- Finance management
Graduates of master's programs in contract management can find entry-level work or advance to leadership positions in the field. Possible job titles include:
- Government contract specialist
- Contract administrator
- Purchasing manager
- Procurement manager
Employment Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), purchasing managers earned an average of $114,130 per year as of 2015. Buyer and purchasing agents earned a median salary of $59,620 per year, with an expected employment increase of two percent between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the national average for all occupations.
Continuing Education Information
There are many certification options available for contract managers, but the most prominent certifying organization is the National Contract Management Association (NCMA). Through the NCMA, professionals can earn one of three designations: Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM), Certified Commercial Contracts Manager (CCCM), or Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM). All certifications require at least a bachelor's degree, professional work experience, and advanced education, such as a master's degree.
A master's program in contract management provides students with theoretical and practical training in the field, along with research opportunities. Graduates may find work as purchasing managers or contract specialists, among other options. They can also pursue voluntary certification, which may enhance career prospects.